Part 6 – Top tips for recruiting apprentices, qualified Dental Nurses and retaining your Dental Nurses

Part 6

I have now spent 21 years in Dentistry and I have never seen the industry so short of dental nurses. I keep being asked by clients what to do? Where to find them? How to retain them? This is not just a UK problem or a problem affecting rural areas.

In my last blog I wrote about maintaining GDC registration and training. In this blog, I am going to cover ownership or leadership change.

New leadership or an ownership change can lead to massive unrest in a team particularly with the nurses.

Here are my tips on ownership and leadership change which are based on making the transition positive. You will always get negativity and ultimately people have to decide whether the practice with new ownership or leadership is right for them. Your role is to make sure that you have done all you can to minimise the impact of significant change.

  1. New Owners:  first you have to make sure that all team members understand TUPE arrangements and that their existing contracts stand, including any benefits they have received until this point. If any team member changes their contract for whatever reason then changes to existing arrangements can also be amended or removed.
  2. New Owners:  A Team meeting is vital as part of an ownership change. In this meeting you need to talk about your brand story, who are you, your experiences, journey in dentistry and in life and what has led you to this point of taking over this business.
  3. New Owners: Share the key factors that attracted you to take over the business so that the team understand and value the previous efforts they have made. New owners make the mistake of just talking about changes and this leads to severe unrest and demotivation of every team member thinking that all the years they have spent are wasted!
  4. Leadership change: Make sure that the practice manager has been recruited properly and that the opportunity has been advertised internally and externally. If people are prevented from applying for positions then you will have created enormous negativity through mismanagement of the recruitment process before you even start.
  5. Leadership change: A team meeting where the new Practice manager is introduced, key skills that they bring into the business. Discuss their job description and reporting procedures from this point on so that communication channels are clear.
  6. Leadership change: In the team meeting, share your own story, your experiences in work and in life so the team can get to know you, leadership is not created in fear so building relationships is one of the key components in successful leaders.
  7. Both roles:  Share your vision for the practice, have a strategy for making changes slowly and that the current team have an opportunity in being involved in shaping the future alongside you. Remember some of the best ideas invariably come from the team so ignore them at your peril!
  8. Both roles: Have robust HR knowledge, right from the outset you need to be applying best practice so that the team know that performance issues, absences, contract issues arriving late etc… is handled correctly. I have found in my experience that the team push to see what you are made of, so those early days are important in setting the right HR standards.
  9. Both roles: Set up a one hour meeting with every team member, preferably take them for a coffee and get to know them. Areas to discuss are their current job description, additional roles they have and how they carry them out, their personal development plan and their general views on where the practice is right now.
  10. Both roles: After the initial meeting set up weekly One to One 15 minute meetings. Ask the following. How has the last week been for you? What do you need my help with? What are your goals for next week? The repeated nature of these meetings is the model for success. Team members value quality time and a fair distribution of your time.
  11. Both roles: Have a plan for making changes and follow through on your changes. If you start lots of things and none are finished then you will lose your credibility as a leader very quickly.
  12. Both roles: Review salaries within 6 months after you have understood what each person is delivering and implement salary banding.
  13. Both roles: Make sure you have mastered delegation. You need to be clear with the task you are delegating, giving a clear time frame for completion and time to actually complete the task. Then review during the One to One’s.
  14. Both roles: Time management. Make sure as a leader you are clear with your time. You cannot have an open door policy, but you can implement open door times. Practice managers and owners who master time management are much more effective in their business and you need reactive and proactive time to make this work well.

This should give you some confidence in the steps to take to help support ownership and leadership changes. My final bit of advice is don’t get disheartened if nurses or any team members do decide to leave. I want to reassure you that this is normal and this has happened to me, it is a normal cycle that is brought about by change and their personal reaction to them.

In next week’s blog we are moving to recruiting qualified dental nurses.



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